August 10th, 2012
08:03 PM ET

Army general is military's first openly gay flag officer

The U.S. military has its first openly gay flag officer with the promotion of Tammy Smith to the rank of Army brigadier general on Friday.

Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith

Smith received her stars in a private ceremony at the Women's Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, according to a press release from the Service Members Legal Defense Network, an organization promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the U.S. military.

Friday was also the first day she publicly acknowledged her sexuality, according to a report from Stars and Stripes, and that acknowledgement comes less than a year after the military ended the "don't ask, don't tell" policy under which an active-duty service member faced punishment or discharge if he or she admitted being homosexual.

“I don’t think I need to be focused on that," Stripes quoted Smith as saying. "What is relevant is upholding Army values and the responsibility this carries.”

Smith is serving as deputy chief at the Office of the Chief at the Army Reserve in Washington. She is a 26-year veteran of the Army and has served in Afghanistan, Panama and Costa Rica as well as stateside assignments.

“It is indeed a new era in America’s military when our most accomplished leaders are able to recognize who they are and serve the country they love at the same time," Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement.

Smith's spouse is Tracey Hepner, director of operations for the Military Partners and Families Coaliton, an advocacy and support organization for LGBT members of the military.

Hepner presented Smith with her stars at Friday's ceremony.

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Filed under: Don't Ask Don't Tell • Gay and lesbian • Military • U.S. Army
soundoff (748 Responses)
  1. Judge John R. STewart

    I wonder if those making condemnations would say the same if a gay doctor discovered the cure for cancer. Of what difference does it make if they do the job in a superior manner> Judge Stewart

    August 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Robert

    Brestep, so a person who hid runaway slaves until after the war exibited questionable values for not observing the current law?

    August 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. billNY

    Big Mistake!

    August 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. billNY

    I think the no gays in military only applies to men. Carpet munchers are ok.

    August 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. billNY

    I assume carpet munching does not interfere with getting the job done. Probably has a male secretary.

    August 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMSP

      You are pitifully disgusting.

      August 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SouthernKev

    I am very proud of her.... more military personel need to follow her example!

    August 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Confussed

      Based on all the ceremonies I have been used as a prop in during my military career something was not right because promotions to General are rarely private ceremonies.

      August 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DefyTheGods

    LOL...I am the very model of a modern major general. I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral...

    August 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. notaposter

    That's great! However, what are we gonna do with the err... separation laws? I mean, men and women are separated for a reason in the army. Correct me if I'm wrong, I admit my ignorance on the topic.

    August 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. You

    Glad to see it's not a Marine. Army accepts anything

    August 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lionel

    Brigadier is only one star not (stars) here is a helpful reminder Be My Little General. B for Brigadier(one star) M for Major General (two stars) L for Lieutenant General (three stars) and General (four stars) CIVILIANS

    August 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      On star on each shoulder. So whoever is pinning on her rank insignia would be pinning on TWO stars. One star per shoulder.

      It is a math thing, just go with it.

      August 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lobelia

    As though none of her subordinates knew she was a lesbian.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Larry L

    Imagine if you could stroll through the National Cemetery late some evening and if by some magic the tombstones of all of the gay people who gave their lives in service to our country could somehow be illuminated. All across the hundreds of acres you'd see the lights from many, many graves of the fallen who gave their lives in defense of a Nation that treated them as second class citizens. Those of you who've posted hateful comments aren't deserving of the sacrifices made by any veterans.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clarke99

      Thank you!

      August 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      You wish

      August 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      You wish.

      August 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tamars

    congratulations tammy smith – thanks for your commitment to our country and honesty in who you are.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hillcreter

      The first of many. This is a good year for the human rights movement.

      August 11, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. 1amazed1

    Good. Equality.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SanchezSC

    Well at least we know that she will be a better leader then half the narrow minded idiots who posted comments. You guys know that America is more than just the bible belt right?

    August 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
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